London’s population is set to grow from 8.9 million today to around 10.8 million by 2041. As it does so, employment is expected to increase on average by 49,000 jobs each year, reaching 6.9 million over the same period. This rapid growth will bring many opportunities, but it will also lead to increasing and competing pressures on the use of space. To accommodate growth while protecting the Green Belt, and for this growth to happen in a way that improves the lives of existing and new Londoners, this Plan proposes more efficient uses of the city’s land.
The key to achieving this will be taking a rounded approach to the way neighbourhoods operate, making them work not only more space-efficiently, but also better for the people who use them. This will mean creating places of higher density in appropriate locations to get more out of limited land, encouraging a mix of land uses, and co-locating different uses to provide communities with a wider range of services and amenities.
The benefits of this approach are wide-ranging, going well beyond the simple ability to provide more homes and jobs. High-density, mixed-use places support the clustering effect of businesses known as ‘agglomeration’, maximising job opportunities. They provide a critical mass of people to support the investment required to build the schools, health services and public transport infrastructure that neighbourhoods need to work. They are places where local amenities are within walking and cycling distance, and public transport options are available for longer trips, supporting good health, allowing strong communities to develop, and boosting the success of local businesses.
Making the best use of land means directing growth towards the most accessible and well-connected places, making the most efficient use of the existing and future public transport, walking and cycling networks. Integrating land use and transport in this way is essential not only to achieving the Mayor’s target for 80 per cent of all journeys to be made by walking, cycling and public transport, but also to creating vibrant and active places and ensuring a compact and well-functioning city.
All options for using the city’s land more effectively will need to be explored as London’s growth continues, including the redevelopment of brownfield sites and the intensification of existing places, including in outer London. New and enhanced transport links will play an important role in allowing this to happen, unlocking homes and jobs growth in new areas and ensuring that new developments are not planned around car use.
As London develops, the Mayor’s Good Growth by Design programme - which seeks to promote and deliver a better, more inclusive form of growth on behalf of all Londoners - will ensure that homes and other developments are of high quality. Existing green space designations will remain strong to protect the environment, and improvements to green infrastructure, biodiversity and other environmental factors, delivering 50 per cent green cover across London, will be important to help London become a National Park City.
London’s distinctive character and heritage is why many people want to come to the city. As new developments are designed, the special features that Londoners value about a place, such as cultural, historic or natural elements, can be used positively to guide and stimulate growth, and create distinctive, attractive and cherished places.
To create high-density, mixed-use places that make the best use of land, those involved in planning and development must:
- prioritise the development of Opportunity Areas, brownfield land, surplus public sector land, sites which are well-connected by existing or planned Tube and rail stations, sites within and on the edge of town centres, and small sites.
- proactively explore the potential to intensify the use of land, including public land, to support additional homes and workspaces, promoting higher density development, particularly on sites that are well-connected by public transport, walking and cycling, applying a design–led approach.
- understand what is valued about existing places and use this as a catalyst for growth and place-making, strengthening London’s distinct and varied character.
- protect London’s open spaces, including the Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land, designated nature conservation sites and local spaces, and promote the creation of new green infrastructure and urban greening.
- plan for good local walking, cycling and public transport connections to support a strategic target of 80 per cent of all journeys using sustainable travel, enabling car-free lifestyles that allow an efficient use of land, as well as using new and enhanced public transport links to unlock growth.
- maximise opportunities to use infrastructure assets for more than one purpose, to make the best use of land and support efficient maintenance.